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Non-family CEO likely at News Corp, expert

Murdoch family members are unlikely to fill News Corp’s top roles in the future, partly because of Rupert Murdoch’s failure to develop a succession plan, according to a leading family business expert.

Murdoch family members are unlikely to fill News Corp’s top roles in the future, partly because of Rupert Murdoch’s failure to develop a succession plan, according to a leading family business expert.

“A non-family CEO is likely, but the question is when this will happen,” said Professor Randel S Carlock, who is the Berghmans Lhoist chaired professor in entrepreneurial leadership at INSEAD.

“Murdoch in one way is a classic family businessman – he doesn’t have a succession plan in place,” he said.

“Many businessmen have the toolkit to be entrepreneurial, but not for succession planning. They keep being entrepreneurial, but they often don’t think or care about the future of the business when they’re gone. They care about the excitement of business.”

An insider at News Corp told Reuters this week that there is "a degree of uncertainty" over succession at the media conglomeration.

Although son James was seen as the heir apparent, he’s been “tainted” by the phone-hacking scandal in the UK, reckons Carlock. Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert’s eldest son, sits on News Corp’s board, but he has distanced himself from the family business in recent years. Daughter Elisabeth was expected to join the board this month, but News Corp’s independent directors announced earlier this week that this move was being delayed.

But Carlock said: “His next generation is not just his kids – he also has a young, charismatic wife, who could play a key role, especially in the Asian markets.”

Murdoch married Chinese-born Wendi Deng in 1999, just days after divorcing his second wife of 32 years, Anna Torv. Murdoch and Deng have since had two children.

The Murdochs control 40% of the voting rights at News Corp. 

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